This is the first Swindonian foodie review which was planned, recorded and put into a readable format for people like you and me (normal that is). As I said before, this is not going to be a wine comparison guide for the food choices I made and there will be no mention of how the food can be improved by rubbing in some far off exotic spice or herb. No, this is a review based on our joy of the dining experience and if all our needs were met.
For the very first foodie review, I wanted to go somewhere that is in the centre of a community and is within everyone’s price range with easy access. I chose a North Swindon pub, The Manor Farm, Lady Lane, (http://www.manorfarmpubswindon.co.uk/). I want to stress that they had no idea we were there to do a review and will find out the same time you have, by reading this article.
So the review, we decided to book a table for a small group of us, deciding that it would be best to go there on a Friday evening. I thought this would be when most people would want to go out, probably to celebrate the end of a working week. Also it would be pointless to try to compare going there on a Tuesday evening with the Friday, as then it would not reflect the service or the feel of the place.
The basics you may want to know, which are often left out are the pub has a large car park right next to the main entrance. Pub tables and chairs line the front where people tend to stand and smoke. We did not have to walk through a veil of smoke as the main entrance did not have anyone stood around it. Going into the pub, we arrived just before 6, it was already busy. The atmosphere was bubbling and it felt a great place to be with my friends.
The pub has just the one bar and it serves the whole place including the restaurant at the back of the bar. It is a warm, cozy and inviting venue and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I saw that there was a pub garden as well with loads of tables but as it was a bit cold and damp no one was out there. There were lights and umbrellas and it looked like a really inviting area, if the sun had been out. I hate the winter time as I always feel a little ‘cooped’ up… (you might want to keep reading..) but it would be good to back in the summer time.
Back to the present day, I saw that every single table in the pub was full, with people stood at the bar. I was glad we had called and booked a table otherwise this would be a short review. We went straight to the dining area and were taken to our table. The staff were all busy, but at least 2 of them stopped what they were doing and greeted us as we walked past, which I thought was a nice touch. I was glad to see that they had not jammed in loads of tables like a battery farm, instead there was enough room and did not feel crowded.
I want to be honest in this review, so I need to point out that as were eating there early, there were some kids there. They were being kept under control but they did scream out now and again, as they have not been properly trained in eating at a fine dining establishment. Not a big concern but you may want to bear this in mind if you want a less noisy experience, if you were to book a table a bit later it might help as they were all gone by 8pm.
Now this is a Marston’s pub chain, with their beers and ales on tap. Settling in with a pint of Hob Goblin, we all started to look through the menu. I saw they specialise in the rotisserie chicken, but I did not want to fall fowl of ‘speciality pages’ so I hatched a plan and settled for something different instead (stop groaning, the puns were obvious). I did see that they had some special deals on different days of the week as well, so it might be an idea to check out their website if you decide to go on another night, it looked like they had some good offers on. Which brings me on to my next point, they have free Wi-Fi there, in case you feel the need to post a photo or write a review.
Now, I like desserts and know that I cannot handle a starter with a dessert so I went straight to the main meals. I did thumb through and there looked like a good selection of starters to be had and if I had to go for it, I would have done a ‘sharing’ platter. They appeared to be good value and gave a good selection. There was a ‘pub’ meals page, where I could have gone for pies, fish and chips or gammon, but what’s the point in writing a review about that?
I am not saying we are all sheep, but my entire group ordered burgers, I went for the pulled pork burger. We changed parts of our order to suit our own tastes, which was all listed in the menu. The food was ordered quiet quickly as the staff there were fairly attentive, then we asked how long it would be before the food would be served. With all the changes and add-ons we were told it would be with us within 20 minutes. So I started the clock, kicked back and started to enjoy the evening.
I could hear there was some back ground music going on as we chatted but as it was busy in the restaurant, I could barely hear it. It added to the background level of noise, adding in the kids and other chatter it was not needed. I was quiet loud in the restaurant but not uncomfortably so.
Cue the “CountDown” music as the food came out within the promised time, but then this fine result was slightly ruined by them forgetting part of an order. No big shakes as this was quickly recognised and some chicken goujons (long chicken nugget things) were re-ordered. Tucking in, the sweet potato fries were pretty good and my friends said the yucca fries were good as well. The manager came over to apologise for the missed order and offered to take them off the bill, another nice touch.
My burger was good, a proper pub burger with loads of bread and thick meaty lump under a few cuts of pulled pork. There was ketchup, mayo and BBQ sauce bottles on the table, waiting for me to tune my meal to my own taste. The food went down and then the chicken goujons appeared as we were finishing, shame but they did not go to waste as the others on the table polished those off. Not to say anything bad about my friends, but one of them is like a bottomless pit and went on to polish off everyone’s plates.
As I mentioned earlier, a meal out is never complete without a dessert and I do love my desserts. I had the idea of a sundae in my head and once the plates were cleared away I grabbed a menu and took a look. Shock horror, No sundaes! Now I know this is a personal choice and not everyone likes ice-cream, but I was disappointed. After a small whimper I had to cheer myself up so I ordered the cheesecake. I was worried that having custard with it would be considered wrong and went with the vanilla ice-cream instead.
Now for the expected bad news, we asked for the bill, which included drinks and all the food we had ordered. Now considering I had 2 pints, a burger and a desert, my part of the bill was only £20. I was surprised, as I thought that it was not a bad price considering all I had eaten and drank there
reviewed by Vince Penne